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Champions Series New Kids On The Block: Phoenix Of Spain

11 Jan 2019

This week we focus on the horse who held his own in several of the top two-year-old races last summer

Phoenix Of Spain finished runner-up in the Champagne Stakes and Futurity Trophy. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Horse: Phoenix Of Spain

Form: 41122. Trainer: Charlie Hills

Charlie Hills has not enjoyed a QIPCO British Champions Series success since Muharaar, the champion sprinter, chalked up three triumphs in 2015.

Phoenix Of Spain gives the Lambourn trainer bright prospects of putting that right in 2019, although if he does it surely will not be over sprint distances.

The good-looking son of Lope De Vega, purchased for 220,000gns as a yearling, shaped well when fourth on his debut over 7f at Sandown in early July and confirmed that promise when easily winning a maiden over the same trip at Wolverhampton later in the month.

Phoenix Of Spain was stepped up to Group 3 company on his next start and proved equal to the task, winning the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes at York by a length and a half from Watan. His seven rivals, like him, had won on their previous outing.

He failed to add to that victory in his final two starts of the campaign but on each occasion enhanced his reputation.

In the Group 2 Howcroft Industrial Supplies Champagne Stakes at Doncaster he beat all bar the exciting Too Darn Hot – staying on well but going down by a length and three quarters to the champion juvenile.

He was stepped up to a mile on his final start, the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Stakes back at Town Moor, and lost out in a blanket finish by a head to the Aidan O’Brien-trained Magna Grecia.

The fact that a length separated the first five home casts a little doubt over the strength of the form but Phoenix Of Spain was hard to fault, perhaps coming from further back than ideal and getting an untimely bump inside the final furlong.

His physique suggests he will train on well and, proven over a mile, a tilt at the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 4 beckons. His ante-post odds range between 14/1 and 33/1.

He should stay further, too, with Unibet making him a standout 50/1 for the Investec Derby.